Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cookbooks: 300 Best Potato Recipes by Kathleen Sloan-McIntosh

The cover is not a clue. In fact, it’s misleading, playing in as it does to so many people’s idea of what a potato should be: shoe-stringed, then boiled in fat until golden brown. And, sure: while, like most people, I respond well enough to a properly french fried potato, there is so much more to this at once humble and noble vegetable than that.

Food journalist, author and restaurateur, Kathleen Sloan-McIntosh, maintains a gently instructive yet always affectionate tone throughout 300 Best Potato Recipes (Robert Rose), a book that covers every aspect of potato lore and cookery about as completely as one could ever desire.

From simple mashes, “roasties” and baked potatoes through to complicated main-dish concoctions, Sloan-McIntosh leads us on a cheerfully carb-laden adventure. “No other vegetable,” the author tells us, “and few foods in general -- incites passion as strongly as the potato.” And is that true? Maybe yes, maybe no, but the important thing is, Sloan-McIntosh believes it, making her the correct guide for this particular journey.

The recipes are well constructed and properly shared: clear instructions are numbered and easy to follow, variations are offered (an there are enough of them that 300 is likely a low estimate of what’s on offer) and tips are included where appropriate (which appears to be pretty much with every recipe).

A few favorites: Potato Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Cream. Green Chili Chicken Curry with New Potatoes. Lemon Potato Salad with Shrimp. In fact, potato salad lovers will do well here: the potato salad section is extensive and wildly varied: I adored a bistro sausage and potato salad that included roma tomatoes and leafy lettuce and a char-grilled potato and chorizo salad nearly knocked my socks off. But for basic combined with elegant, I’d serve fingerling potato salad with tarragon cream to almost anyone. And those are just the very tip of the potato: the list of salads made with earth apples here is deep.

If you’ve ever wished you had a wider repertoire with potatoes, then this is the book for you. ◊

Aaron Blanton is a contributing editor to January Magazine. He’s currently working on a book based on his experiences as an American living abroad.

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